Danny Martinez: Happy Feet
Q & A with SAGU's all-time leading scorer
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Following the first-ever winning season by the men’s soccer team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, recognition and awards came slowly.
The team narrowly missed the Red River Athletic Conference tournament, which gave berths to six of the twelve members, after posting a 7-7-4 mark. The Lions regrouped and, as the #6 seed, won the Central Region of the National Christian College Athletic Association by sweeping three games.
The upstart Purple Pride advanced to the NCCAA Nationals at Orlando, where they came up short. While going 0-2-1, they were very competitive. They yielded two second half goals in a 3-0 loss to eventual national champion, California Baptist. The Lions tied Oakland City University (Ind) 2-2, then lost on a late score to Grace College (Ind), 3-2.
Southwestern finished with a 10-9-5 record.
With 16 of their 22-man roster comprised of freshmen and sophomores, the squad should continue their ascension next season.
Junior Danny Martinez (Houston, Tx / Cypress Creek HS) garnered much of the attention. The 5-foot-10 striker scored a team-record 15 goals, earning 2nd Team All-American status with the NCCAA.
He also was named 2nd Team All-Conference, an honor void of SAGU representation for years.
The explosive scorer was a challenge to cover by enemy defenders. After the season he slowed down long enough to answer a baker’s dozen of questions.
Q #1) What does it mean to you and the team for you to receive such a recognition?
DM: This is a great accomplishment to receive such recognition. It was my goal to make an All-American team. As for my team, I know throughout the whole season they have encouraged me and pushed me to reach my full potential as a player. I know they are supporting me and are proud for the recognition we have brought to our program.
Q2) You played at SAGU a few seasons ago. Why did you return?
DM: The reason for my return was to finish what I had started. I was always keeping up with SAGU and it came to my attention that the program was being rebuilt; a whole new team and a new coach. It felt like it would be a good start for a new beginning.
Prior coaches at SAGU have been a great influence in my life. Coaches Thiago Goncalves, Jeremy Tosaya and Aaron DeLoach all were inspirational to me. DeLoach combined soccer and ministry and planted something within me to come back and finish.
Q3) Summarize the 2011 season?
DM: This season was a roller coaster, with ups and downs and twists and turns. We fought and played very well but we didn’t finish well in some games. Most of the games we lost came in the last 15 minutes. It was very hard because we knew we had the potential to do something great.
That came when we hosted the regional tournament. It was the greatest of feelings and memories that I won’t ever forget. We came together as a team and finally finished teams off!
Orlando was also a great experience! As the #8 seed, few expected us to compete. We didn’t pick up any wins but we battled well. We should have won the last two games. It left us hungry for next year.
Q4) What do you see as the team's potential next year?
DM: Reaching the RRAC tournament and giving teams a battle all season. Our team bond is stronger than ever. If we play with the same mind-set and passion like we did in the post-season, great things will come for us.
Q5) How would you describe your style and strengths?
DM: I’d like to believe that I have great vision, a vision that helps me see everything going on around me. I see open spaces to make runs and to create plays when in our attack. I’m strong, one-on-one, especially with my right foot. I have a great shot if given the space and am working to develop more with my left foot for next season. Balanced production with both feet.
Q6) Which soccer player do you try to emulate?
DM: There are many players that I watch to see if I can do the things they do. Certainly, Ronaldo (retired great from Brazil) was very strong, very fast knew how to make runs. He was one of the best in the world to learn from.
Q7) What changed for you, compared to your previous seasons (2007, 2008) at SAGU?
DM: The team this year was deeper and a lot more talented. I was much stronger. I weighed less than 150 pounds before. Scrawny. Working out in the gym, lifting, running, doing agility drills helped so much. I weighed 185 this year. It gave me confidence to take on players and to win 50/50 balls. It allowed me to know that I could compete at a higher level without being knocked around like before.
Q8) What is your major at SAGU and what are your future career aspirations?
DM: My major is Church Ministries. I’m really leaving the details in God’s hands. My calling is to be a youth pastor and worship leader, reaching young people who are lost and without a way-out.
I will return to SAGU to finish what I’ve started and to see where God wants to take me. It could also include opening soccer clinics around the world to reach young kids.
Q9) What size of family are you from?
DM: My parents are Rafael (48) and Vilma (45) Martinez. They are from Guatemala, so I have that in my blood. I have two sisters, Jeanette (24) and Lydia (16). We all live in Houston, though Jeanette attends SAGU with me.
Q10) Did you play high school soccer at Houston's Cypress Creek?
DM: I played for coach Buck Lally my junior and senior seasons at Cy-Creek.
NOTE: Martinez was named the Cougars offensive Most Valuable Player and All-Conference as a junior and senior.
Q11) Describe the Lions style of offense this year or the way you guys attacked opponents.
DM: We attacked opponents by moving the ball and making quick runs. We utilized through-balls a lot. I think we kept other teams fall off balance. We were very quick, which was another key to our offense; speed. Sudden strikes.
Q12) Who were some of the key offensive players?
DM: Key offensive players for us were (Jonathan) “Colocho” Ramos and Parker Sturgeon. Most of my goals came from these two guys’ feet from the outside. Their quickness allows both of them to take it (the ball) down the flank and send crosses to the middle.
Q13) How vital to your productivity was Parker Sturgeon?
DM: Parker is a great player. He always goes all-out. He is one of the best I have had the opportunity to play with. What I was able to do was directly related to the talent, speed, and ball-control that Parker had. He made great adjustments all season, and he’s only a freshman. Without his presence in the game, we struggled.
He is very consistent and I anticipate him only getting better. His unselfish feet helped bring our success.
NOTE: Sturgeon had one goal and eight assists during the regular season, and added three post-season scores and two more assists (4-10, 18 points).